I imagine that most of you are coupon newbies who are just starting on your quest to reduce your grocery budget. For many families, groceries are the largest weekly expense, so it is the most obvious place to begin your journey and my explanation. There are two basic types of coupons: manufacturer and store coupons.
Product manufacturer’s want you to try their products. They want you to buy them and become addicted and keep buying so that they stay in business. That is why they release coupons. They are hoping that you will use the coupon to buy your initial purchase, then continue to buy it at full retail and I can’t say that they are too far off of the mark with a majority of American shoppers. Companies like Procter & Gamble, Betty Crocker, Kraft, Pillsbury, Kellogg’s release coupons that can be redeemed in stores which sell the product. Most coupons have a life of two or three months before they hit their expiration date, so often it is a better idea to hang onto your coupons for a little while until you can find a sale or a store coupon to match them up with. I’ll cover this idea (multiple coupons, or “stacking”) in the next volume.
You can always identify a manufacturer coupon by specific markings. It will saying with “Manufacturer coupon” or “MFR” at the top, followed by the expiration. The best and most reliable place to find manufacturer coupons is in your Sunday newspaper. I know you’ve seen them, those glossy inserts folded in with the ads. Those are your new best friend and you will need them if you want to save 50% or more on your next grocery trip. Coupons are distributed by companies like RedPlum, SmartSource, Procter & Gamble, Unilever, and General Mills. A multitude of different product coupons can be found in these inserts from cereal to deodorant to razors to diapers. Save them and NEVER ever throw coupons away. You may say, “But I don’t buy this brand,” or “My kids don’t like this type”. Just do me a favor and NEVER throw them away.
There are of course other ways to obtain coupons. One of the easiest and most obvious mediums for manufacturer coupons is called peelies You’ve seen these before, stuck to the front of a product so that you can “peel” it off. You don’t even have to buy the product in order to take the coupon! Additionally, you can find tear pads, pads of manufacturer coupons inside the store, and blinkies which are the little red machines attached to the shelves that “blink” and spit out coupons.
And now, the my favorite alternative method, printable coupons! The market is become flooded with printable coupons, largely in part because many shoppers spend a large chunk of time on the internet (myself included!). Companies like SmartSource and RedPlum have created systems from which you can pick and choose which coupons you decide to print and which to pass up. A word of caution, printing can use up a LOT of resources, especially if you don’t have your printer set-up properly. Make sure that before you print your coupons, set your printer to “fast draft” and “greyscale” to avoid using up more ink than you need to. Remember, you only need the scanner to read the coupon. It doesn’t have to win any beauty contests.
Here are a few links to get you started:
And if that wasn’t enough, you can even load coupons directly onto your store loyalty card. You don’t have to print, clip, or file. Here are a few sites for ya:
Store coupons look a lot like manufacturer coupons except instead of MFR, they will say “Store Coupon” or “Redeemable Only at Walmart” (for example). These have been issued by a particular store and can only be used in that particular store in most instances. These can be found in the Sunday inserts, in the stores’ weekly ads, or even on their websites. Often, these coupons do not last for more than a week or two, so it is important to take advantage of them as soon as you can.
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